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Hesse sentenced to 80 years for beating death

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District Judge Jason Marks, of Missoula, sentenced a former Colorado man to the Montana State Prison for 80 years on one count of deliberate homicide for the beating death of Gyme Kelley, 63, of Ronan. 

William Lowery Hesse II, 54, was sentenced at District Court in Polson on Oct. 22. He was also sentenced to the Montana State Prison for 10 years on one count of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence for attempting to hide the clothes he was wearing during the brutal attack.

Hesse was convicted by a Lake County jury after a trial that began at District Court in Polson on Sept. 28 and ended Oct. 2. The jury began their deliberations on a Friday and reached their guilty verdicts around noon the following day.

Hesse was accused of beating Gyme Kelley to death with his hands and feet after a night of drinking at Kelley’s camper in Ronan. The incident began on Aug. 30, 2019, at a tavern in Pablo with Hesse, Kelley and a female, who was not identified.

The three ended up at Kelley’s camper. Hesse maintained that another woman was with them, but video surveillance, where Kelley kept his trailer, shows only Hesse, Kelley and one female at the camper. 

At some point, Hesse and Kelley got into a heated argument, according to statements made by the female. In an effort to deescalate the situation, Kelley and the female went for a walk, leaving only Hesse at the camper. 

While Kelley and the female were away, Hesse began tearing up the inside of Kelley’s camper. 

 A barbecue was thrown through a window, a television was destroyed and items were generally thrown about. The damage was extensive and caused enough noise that neighbors called law enforcement to the scene. 

A responding deputy arrived and recorded the encounter on his body camera, which was played during the trial. Hesse appeared extremely intoxicated, and the deputy told Hesse to go sleep it off. 

When the two returned from their walk, Kelley confronted Hesse about the damage to his camper and asked him to leave. Hesse refused and a physical altercation ensued. Hesse got Kelley to the floor and continued to hit and kick him, according to records. 

The female told investigators that the beating went on for a few hours with Hesse taking breaks between hitting and kicking Kelley. The female said she was trying to avoid a confrontation with Hesse out of fear he would assault her. She was able to convince Hesse to call 911 at about 3 p.m. on Aug. 31 after she could no longer feel a pulse on Kelley. 

An exam at the state medical examiner’s office determined Kelley had suffered blunt force trauma, which led to asphyxiation. At the trial, it was revealed that Kelley’s ribs were fractured in 23 places. It was also revealed that Hesse, Kelley and the female had been ingesting methamphetamine and consuming alcohol.

Marks ran the sentences concurrently with no parole restrictions, meaning Hesse could be eligible for parole after serving 20 years. Marks told Hesse: “If you behave at the Montana State Prison like you did in jail or out on the streets, you’ll be in prison for the rest of your life.”

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